Knights winger Ken Sio is confident he can match it with Warriors legend Manu Vatuvei

13/02/2019 Posted by admin

FOR more than a decade, Manu Vatuvei has terrorised and trampled those unfortunate enough to play rightwing for the Newcastle Knights.
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TRY TIME: Ken Sio at the Auckland Nines.

Now the jobof taming the “Beast” in Newcastle’s season-opening clash with the Warriors at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday week has been handed to new recruit Ken Sio.

HARD YARDS: Ken Sio at training.

FEARSOME: Manu Vatuvei

As first assignments go, they don’t get much tougher. In 19 games against Newcastle, Vatuvei has scored 19 tries –more than any other opposition player in history.


The next best against the Knights is champion Melbourne fullback BillySlater, whose 23 games have yielded 17tries.

In his past 11games against Newcastle, Vatuvei has crossed the stripe 14times, including three doubles and a hat-trick.

Yet if players such as Akuila Uate and Jake Mamo have struggled to contain the fearsome 30-year-old, Sio can at least enter the game with a degree of confidence.

During his 57 games for Parramatta, before two years with Hull Kingston Rovers in Super League, Sio marked up against Vatuvei twice.

In their first clash, in 2012, the Warriors won 36-20 but Sio picked up a try and kept Vatuvei scoreless.

A year later, Sio crossed for a double in Parramatta’s 40-10 win and again Vatuvei’s name did not feature on the scoresheet.

In other words, the score is 3-0 to Sio after two games.

At 189 centimetres and 109 kilograms, Vatuvei will hold a significant size advantage over 26-year-old Sio (185cm and 95kg).

Yet Sio said he relies on an old-fashioned approach when lining up against the 28-Test Kiwi international: “He’s a big bloke, but the same for everyone who gets tackled, you can’t run without your legs.’’

Sio admitted stopping Vatuvei would be easier if the Knights can “get numbers in the tackle’’ and not allow him space to wind up.

“He’s a legend of the game and it will be awesome to come up against him again,’’ he said.

“I went all right last time, but I didn’t really have to tackle him front-on.

“That would be a pretty scary thing to have to do, but it would be a good challenge as well.’’

It will be the first time Sio has played at Mount Smart Stadium, where the Knights have won just one of their past 11 games.

“The last time I was there [with Parramatta], I had a bit of a shoulder problem and was 18thman,’’ he said.

“So this will be the first time I’ve played there in the NRL.

“But even playing in reserve grade, it’s always a tough place to play.’’

Sio has settled in quickly since joining the Knights in October, scoring a try in the Auckland Nines and also last week’s 44-0 trial thrashing of Canberra.

“It’s a good feeling to come back home [to ],’’ he said.

“The boys have made me feel welcome and Newcastle is an awesome place to live.’’

Vatuvei, with 152 tries, is equal 10thon rugby league’s all-time tryscoring tally.

Sio has a handy strike rate in his own right, scoring 37 times in 57 top-grade games for the Eels.

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